The High Achievers Recognition Scheme (HARS) in the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences (HELS) advances and celebrates students’ professional and academic aspirations and capabilities amongst a highly diverse, largely ‘commuter’ student population.
The HARS Team features Academics, a Student Steering Group, Professional Services, Student Services and Graduate interns as well as external partners (including the Scheme’s own alumni). Students eligible to join HARS are identified at the end of Year 1 based on academic performance and ‘distance travelled’ metrics. HARS students complete an on-line profiling questionnaire and are interviewed by a Careers coach to support engagement with the four tracks available: advanced academic skills; leadership development; community engagement; and/or international mobility.
The thematic areas targeted by HARS are:
- students as partners (HARS students help design, develop and evaluate the Scheme);
- employability (the Scheme boosts students’ employability skills);
- inclusivity (differentiation for learning is important for all, including high achieving students).
Impact of work
Since its roll out in 2016-17, HARS has identified around 1600 eligible students out of a Faculty population annually of 10,000. HARS has clear benefits for the student population who both drive it forward via the Student Steering Group, and those whom it serves across the Faculty. Students are regularly accessing HARS opportunities, and report an increase in personal and professional development, self-awareness, resilience and academic skills and achievements, which they attribute directly to the Scheme. Working with students with raised aspirations for achievement and success is inspiring and exciting. HARS excels for example in providing enhanced international mobility opportunities for students; 45% of the successful applicants in the Faculty for international travel scholarship bursaries were HARS students. HARS staff and students have presented at HE conferences in the UK and further afield where there has been much interest, support and excitement for what is on offer for the students. The paucity of literature on working with high achieving students in HE in this manner opens up considerable opportunity for research and scholarly activity which the Team are already seizing.
Juliette Gaunt is Faculty Academic Lead for HARS. She has responsibility for the development of the Scheme in collaboration with the Student Steering Group. Charlie Banister, Marsha de-Souza Williams, Karamjit Narewal and Lisa Smith are HARS Nursing and Midwifery, and Allied Health Professional students, scholars and/or members of the Student Steering Group. Professor Mark O’Hara is Associate Dean in the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences and doubles as the HARS Deputy. Katie Whitehouse, Lindsay Southall and Alex Carroll are Careers Advisors working in the Careers+ central team at BCU. Jezz Freeth is Graduate Student Success Advisor for HARS managing the social media feed and the website. Andrew Sayer is a Librarian with the University’s Library and Learning Resources Team and Nicola Clarke and Gay Johnson are Health academics based in the Faculty’s Professional.
Birmingham City University